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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Slackline club staggers

By Adam Bowman

After an unsteady beginning and a wavering future, the U slackline club is attempting to keep its balance.

“It’s a work in progress,” said Andrew Eisenberg, a sophomore major in urban planning.

Eisenberg started the Outdoor Equilibrium Slackline Club on campus in the fall of 2005, and although the club started with about 10 to 15 people who showed up to slackline and five to 10 dedicated members, the club is now struggling to keep its membership strong.

Slacklining is when a person walks across one-inch-thick webbing, typically strung between two trees.

“It sags and shakes, so it really tests your balance,” said Eric Rubenstahl, a senior in environmental studies and the current club president. “It’s a challenge of the inner body-it’s not about strength.”

The club had been slacklining at Presidents’ Circle four days a week for about three months without damage or injury last year, but when it attempted to designate training at the Union Free Speech Area last fall, its members were instructed to check with grounds to make sure they could use the trees for slacklining.

Eisenberg talked to Susan Pope, grounds supervisor, who was against the use of any of the trees on campus for slacklining.

He presented information from an Interim Climbing Management Plan from Gunnison National Park that said, “When using trees as natural anchors, padding will be placed between the rope and bark surface to prevent damage to trees.”

Pope maintained her position, though. “I didn’t want potential damage to the trees,” she said.

Eisenberg said he was very disappointed with the decision because “we recognized our responsibility and wouldn’t sacrifice the trees for our enjoyment.”

Their concerns prompted Dean of Students Stayner Landward to call a meeting to address the needs and concerns of the club, risk management and U grounds. Attendees collectively decided on an area that was safe for students and wouldn’t hurt the trees. Eisenberg also researched how to set up an anchor system with removable pieces so people couldn’t use the course unattended and injure themselves. He came back with a $3,000 school-approved budget.

Today, however, the course remains incomplete and the club’s needs have not been met because it lacks enough places to put beginner lines and continues to face other maintenance issues.

Until the course is finished and the club has the ability to recruit new participants, Rubenstahl said he has been focusing on the environmental education goals of the club.

“We tried to get the club to slackline on Mondays this fall, but no one was showing up,” Rubenstahl said. He added that the distance of the course from the main part of campus may have something to do with the low attendance.

The club has also been meeting to discuss the environment Thursday nights at the Social Behavior Science Building, but Rubenstahl said participation is inconsistent.

“This is my last year here. By spring, we need to get some young interest, so in 10 years, the club will be over 50 people.”

He said he hopes that, at the very least, they can just keep it going. “And that would be good,” Rubenstahl said.

Chronicle file photo

Outdoor Equilibrum Slacklining Club founder Andrew Eisenberg eats lunch while slacklining Sept. 29, 2005, in Presidents’ Circle. The OESC has seen lower turnout in meetings since a ban was placed on slacklining using on-campus trees.

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